Why take courses in this discipline?

Economics is the study of how society uses its scarce resources. The goal of the department is to promote an understanding of the economic aspects of society and to develop each student’s ability to reason about economic issues — that is, to provide a basis for intelligent, responsible participation in modern society.

How does the discipline contribute to the liberal arts?

Courses in economics involve quantitative reasoning and the study of human behavior and society.

What kinds of questions are asked in this field?

Economists study a wide range of issues related to human behavior and society. Broadly, the discipline is interested in the role of incentives on behavior and pays particular attention to the resulting impacts of different behaviors on individual and social welfare.

How does a student get started?

The introductory course is Introduction to Economics (ECN 111).

Several economics courses have mathematics and statistics courses as prerequisites. Students should take MAT 124 or MAT 131 in preparation for intermediate theory courses (such as ECN 280 and ECN 282). Students should also take STA 209 (they should not take MAT 115/SST 115) to enroll in the methods course of the discipline (ECN 286).

Students majoring in economics must complete a history course above the 100-level from an approved list. An up-to-date list of approved history courses can be found on the economics department website.

AP/IB Credit

A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Economics Macro or AP Economics Micro would count for four credits in the social studies division. A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Economics Macro and AP Economics Micro would allow the student to skip ECN 111 and enroll in a lower 200-level economics class. (Note: The credits from the AP exams would count toward graduation requirements but not toward the 32 required credits for the major.) A score of 6 or 7 on the IB Economics exam would also allow the student to skip ECN 111 and enroll in a lower 200-level economics class.

Courses in Economics

All Courses in Economics

Lower 200-Level Courses

  • Current State of the U.S. Economy
  • Labor Economics
  • Gender and the Economy
  • Foundations of Policy Analysis
  • Economics of Innovation
  • Economic Development
  • International Economics
  • Health Economics
  • Money and Banking
  • Resource and Environmental Economics
  • Financial Economics
  • Public Finance
  • Economic History

200-Level Theory Courses

  • Microeconomic Analysis
  • Macroeconomics Analysis
  • Econometrics

Advanced Analysis Courses

  • Financial and Managerial Accounting
  • Corporate Finance
  • Advanced Econometrics
  • Behavioral and Experimental Economics
  • Applied Game Theory
  • Introduction to Mathematical Economics

Senior Seminars

  • Environmental Economics
  • Political Economy
  • Economic Development
  • International Trade
  • Law and Economics
  • Crime
  • Monetary Economics
  • Global Factor Movements
  • Health Economics
  • Seminar in Corporate Tax

Sample Four-Year Plan for an Economics Major
Year Fall Spring

ECN 111

MAT 131 (in either semester) or MAT 123

lower 200-level course (ECN 205-250)

MAT 131 (in either semester) or MAT 124 (if you took MAT 123)


ECN 280

STA 209

ECN 282


ECN 286

Approved history course

Advanced Analysis class (ECN 300-350)

Fourth Senior Seminar (ECN 351-395) Senior Seminar (ECN 351-395)

Off-Campus Study

Recommended programs: University College London; Stockholm School of Economics; London School of Economics. Under special circumstances and with prior approval, courses taken off-campus may count toward the major.

Contributions to Other Majors/Concentrations

Courses in Economics contribute to concentrations in:

Department Events and Opportunities

Economics students can apply for numerous awards, grants, scholarships, and fellowships. The department has opportunities for student mentors, graders, and tutors. Students may also participate in the Pioneer Capital Investments, Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell, and the Diversity and Inclusivity Club for Economics (DICE).

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